Advanced Space doesn’t just have a spacecraft flying at the Moon: we also investigate missions to deep space.
Last year, we conducted a feasibility study for a local non-profit organization (ASTROBi Foundation) that investigated the functions, cost, and complexity of three major components for a low-cost mission to Saturn’s moon Enceladus: (1) the entire trajectory set for a spacecraft to follow, (2) the navigation architecture, including both in-space and ground-based navigation, and (3) a low-cost ground system to support the mission. The mission’s science goal is to determine if biological signatures of life exist there. The spacecraft, named Encelascope, would collect its data by flying through the plumes that are erupting from the “Tiger Stripes” that appear on Enceladus’ southern latitudes. The Tiger Stripes are long depressions that have been observed to be spewing a stream of tiny particles into space, apparently from an underground ocean. A liquid ocean is a tantalizing location to probe for signatures of life. The science would require that the spacecraft pass through the Tiger Stripes’ plumes as low as possible, down to 1-20 kilometers above Enceladus’s surface, and the science phase would last approximately one year. (more…)